Thank you to my friend Cliff Harvey for finding these magnificent pictures, from the 2017 Epson International Pano Awards.
I was moved by this short video from Wex about Giles Duley a fashion photographer for ten years, who turned to documentary photography.
In 2011, embedded with a military unit in Afghanistan, he stepped on a landmine. The explosion tore through him, costing him three of his limbs — only his right arm remains. After a lengthy recovery he now travels the world, taking pictures of people affected by war and documenting their daily lives
After being flown back from Afghanistan he was not expected to live, but in hospital in Birmingham, his sister remembers him mouthing “I am still a photographer”.
I was out and about in Cambridge yesterday with my camera, and I was accosted by an elderly lady. She thought that because I was carrying a camera, I must be a snoop from the council. That is just one of the hazards of street photography. Had I been carrying a big DSLR, she would have assumed I was a proper photographer. However, a small camera like the Sony a6300 can unfortunately make you seem like a furtive fellow.
The picture above was taken there. The couple look delighted to have been caught on camera. I was having a good day!
I created the moody monochrome image using Silver Efex Pro2, from the Google Nik Collection.
The Google Nik Collection is the best free resource for photographers available on the web. In 2016 when Google decided not to support the software further, it went on to provide the software free to photographers. This was both good and bad news. The software was free, but it was never going to to be updated. However, a month or so ago it was agreed that DxO acquire the Nik Collection, and fortunately they plan to continue to develop it. A revised version will be available mid 2018.
It is still possible to download the existing software, including Silver Efex for monochrome post processing here.
This is a note to myself about how the image was processed.
In Lightroom, there are the usual workflow: exposure, sharpness and white balance adjustments to process from RAW. The image was then desaturated to -31, the vibrance taken down to -29 and the clarity pushed up to +71. Reducing the colour to provide a dark and moody presence. I also added a shallow tone curve and imperceptible vignette.
Removed the reflection of myself and used the burn tool to tone down the interior of the pub, reducing lights and reflections.
Processed to mono using preset 23 Wet Rocks and film type Agfa APX Pro 100.
To achieve that look, without Silver Efex would be impossible for an amateur retoucher like myself. Furthermore, in the distant analogue days it would have taken hours of work in the darkroom to achieve the same results.
I recently entered an event at Bedford Camera Club, where we were presented with six photographs in RAW. Our objective was to process three images and present back how we did it. These are my notes, about how I went about trying to make these photos pop in Lightroom and Photoshop. I have not explained the technical details, but I have included some links to all the technical information..
Amazon have a good deal on Lightroom and Photoshop at the moment:
This is the first image in RAW. Looks very drab and ordinary, BEFORE processing.
The picture is grey and washed out. There is no detail in the sky. There is no real focus on what the subject is. There is too much foreground. The edges are messy. The detail in the pebbles and brickwork are lost.
This is the second image in RAW. At least there is some interest in this image, but despite the magnificent architecture, it is drab and unexciting.
This image has an odd sepia cast, as if the white balance needs correction. The detail in the sky is probably not worth trying to recover and could be replaced. The picture is dark and lacks detail. There is no real focus on the subject, the photograph is not about the two pigeons in the foreground.
This is the third image in RAW. There is a picture in there somewhere trying to get out.
The detail in the columns is lost. There is no real colour so would it be better in black and white? The portrait mode makes the picture mostly pavement. The two nuns should be made the focus of the image.
I am fascinated by digital post production. However, I am still very much in the foothills in the journey to master Photoshop especially. If you want to see just what can be achieved, look at the books and videos of Glyn Dewis.
I just wanted to add to the debate about the Fujifilm X-Trans sensor which is the APSC sensor used in Fujifilm X series cameras like the XT2, XT20 and XPro2.
The debate which rages on countless forums, centres around the artefacts that can be found on RAW files after they have been processed in Lightroom. Photographers claim that there can be worm like backgrounds and smeary images on high ISO images. Other Fuji users claim never to have come across this problem. Well I did.
Here are a couple of examples shown at high magnification taken on a Fuji XT20 at just ISO640.
Although the sensor is claimed to be 24 MP, and that size of sensor should be able to create up to a c’3′ x 2′ print. I would not like to rely on it if details like these were evident. Therefore creating fine art prints with this camera is not going to be possible.
To understand the technicalities of why this is. Then refer to this excellent article.
The answer to the problem many people argue in forums is not to process Fujifim X-Trans images in Lightroom, users suggest instead to use Capture One. Surely however, there is something seriously wrong when one of the world’s most popular cameras, can not use the world’s most popular processing engine and workflow.
A note to myself, this is an excellent tutorial for processing a portrait in Lightroom. Until now I had always assumed that these tools were only available in Photoshop and required masking and layers, but this portrait is handled from start to finish in Lightroom. Impressive cloning too towards the end. Well done Marc Webster.
I visited the RPS International Photography Exhibition this week and there were a lot of strong images on display. So strong I wished I had taken many of them. A high level of envy on my part, is sufficient criteria for a really stunning image.
The RPS International Photography Exhibition has been held almost every year since 1854. Now in its 160th year, it is the longest running exhibition of its kind in the world.
The RPS describes the exhibition as reflecting, ‘the varying interests and vibrant aesthetics of the photographic medium today, presenting work which demonstrates photographic skill and technique, alongside images exploring ideas and narratives rich in meaning and message. It encompasses single images and series work across all genres. The work is executed in many ways from alternative processes to contemporary approaches’.
The RPS it seems is becoming more and more pompous. A prime candidate for Private Eye / Pseuds Corner.
‘In This Place’ raises questions about choice—do we have choices in life, or are some predetermined and made for us?
Margaret took pictures of her nephew and two nieces as children, growing up in Stirling for a previous work called Family. More recently Margaret started photographing them again. Her sister’s children are now adults and have kids of their own. However their living conditions are the same, and it appears that the same outcome awaits each child. It is as if there were, some sort of self fulfilling cycle.
The exhibition was at the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, which was an excuse to walk the London streets with my camera. The street art is amazing.
I went along to the 2017 Documentary Photographer of the Year exhibition at Printspace in London this week. The exhibition is organised by the RPS Documentary Group. It was a bit thin to be honest, probably twenty five images, thirty at most. However, it was interesting to see how photographers had tackled a documentary subject in just five pictures.
Particularly impressive was the winner David Fletcher who’s photographs follows Ann, a New Forest commoner, and her purchase of eight calves in December. After a few weeks the calves began to fall ill and despite her efforts, and expense of the vet, only two calves survived the winter. The photographs were very moving, in just five images you sympathised with her plight and felt in there with her. See here.
The Documentary Photographer of the Year exhibition was at Printspace in Hoxton London. So it was an opportunity to walk through the east end of London, down through the City to Blackfriars to catch the train home. The image above is just one of two keepers, from the 200+ shots taken on the trip with my Canon 6D. Still that 1% rule. If I take 100 pictures I am lucky to get one that is worth sharing.
Last night I listened to a talk by Tom Way a truly amazing wildlife photographer. His pictures were fabulous, because in my opinion he was not a naturalist taking pictures, but a photographer taking pictures of nature. He advocated putting your photographs away for two months and coming back to them to critique them. He put critiquing your own work as the number one photography skill. He looks for just twelve images a year! If I did that however I would probably be down to just 0.01%.
( Tom Way sells his work as fine art prints. This is just a note to myself about the paper and frame he uses)
I was looking to do some sensor comparisons and headed off to this fantastic site.
I have been researching Sony A6000 cameras for a bit now, because I am looking for the ultimate street camera. I did have a Fuji XT20 but I had to send that back to Wex because the AF was dire. See how I tried to overcome the problem. Can I just mention that Wex were fantastic and their customer service is second to none.
However back to the Sony 6300. At DXOMARK they measure the image quality of camera sensors, this covers colour sensitivity, noise including dynamic range and tonal range, and ISO sensitivity. The Sony 6300 and Sony 6500 have a score of 85.
This is on par with the Canon 6D MK2. The prestigious Canon EOS-1D X Mark II scores 88, the Canon 5D MKIV 91, and the extraordinary new Nikon D850 scores 100. The list here is dominated by Nikon, Sony and to a lesser extent Canon.
So how about the competitor mirrorless cameras (priced at around £1000), how do they compare with the Sony A6300 score of 85. Unfortunately there are no recent Fujifilm cameras in the list (I wonder why?)
Canon EOS M6 78
Canon EOS M5 77
Leica T 75
It is interesting reading reviews in which reviewers use their own image quality tests, but on this site it is completely impartial. The numbers do the talking.
The Sony a6300 seems like a good candidate as a great street camera. I have pulled together the best reviews and drawn some conclusions.